NASCAR America Fantasy League: 10 Best at Chicagoland in last three years


The Overton’s 400 at Chicagoland Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET, NBSCN) begins a fresh 10-race segment of the NASCAR America Fantasy Live game and anyone who was slow to jump on the Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch bandwagon during the last go-around have a new opportunity to ride those ponies until they go lame.

Simple, right?

Not so fast. Harvick was one of the top-five points earners only six times in the last 10 races. Busch was among the five best on seven occasions, and knowing when to leave them in the garage was critical because it allowed players to take a dark horse that might have been overlooked.

This week, Busch has only the ninth-best three-year average. Harvick is 17th on the chart – because of an accident in 2015 and an uncharacteristic 20th in 2016. Of course, that doesn’t mean much when they enter this weekend with as much momentum as they have shown.

Success predicts success in a NASCAR race and the top five this week should all be considered as fillers alongside Harvick and Busch in the NASCAR America Fantasy Live roster.

1. Chase Elliott (three-year average: 2.50 in two starts)
This is not the first time this season that Elliott has come to a track with a perfect record. Most experts expect him to win sometime in 2018, but that is not going to happen until Chevrolet finds the magic formula in regard to their aero package.

2. Denny Hamlin (three-year average: 3.67)
Hamlin’s top-10 streak actually extends to four seasons. He has not finished worse than sixth since 2014 and given that he is part of the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut that has dominated with his teammate Kyle Busch, he has a better opportunity to visit Victory Lane than any other winless driver.

3. Martin Truex Jr. (three-year average: 5.00)
Forget about Truex’s average finish of fifth in the last three years and concentrate on his back-to-back wins in 2016 and 2017. He’s also won two of the last three races this season, which means he has more momentum than anyone else in the field.

3. Joey Logano (three-year average: 5.00)
Team Penske has been perfect in regard to top-10 finishes in the last four years. Logano has not yet won – and with Harvick and Busch in the field, he is not likely to on Sunday either – but his second-place finish in 2016 and a fourth in 2014 makes him a solid fantasy pick.

5. Brad Keselowski (three-year average: 6.33)
In terms of predictability, it doesn’t get much better than Keselowski’s Chicagoland record of seven straight top 10s. Two of these were wins (2012 and 2014) and all of them were eighth or better. Keselowski is overdue for a win because he has not gone this far into the season without one since 2013.

6. Ryan Blaney (three-year average: 7.50 in two starts)
When a driver debuts at a track with a top-five finish, it generally indicates that he will run well there for the rest of his career. Blaney slipped to 11th last year after finishing fourth in his rookie run in 2016, but he’s in even better equipment this year and should easily land in the single digits again.

7. Kyle Larson (three-year average: 10.00)
By now, the reader has noticed a trend. There aren’t very many true dark horses to be had on 1.5-mile tracks in general and Chicagoland in particular. That works out just fine considering that most of the top-named drivers other than Harvick and Busch have virtually equal odds of winning.

8. Jimmie Johnson (three-year average: 10.33)
Once the king of the 1.5-mile tracks, Johnson’s fall from grace has been difficult for his fans. It also plays havoc with traditional methods of handicapping races. For now, keep ignoring him from a fantasy NASCAR perspective and use him only if Chevrolet turns their season around in the next 10 races.

9. Kyle Busch (three-year average: 10.67)
Busch’s three-year average is skewed by an uncharacteristic 15th-place finish last year. But, even before then he had not scored a top five in three seasons. That doesn’t really matter this week, however, because he’s won two of the five races on this track type and is not going to slow down.

10. Kurt Busch (three-year average: 11.67)
Busch has only one top-10 finish in the last three years, but a third in 2015 was good enough to offset his 13th in 2016 and a 19th last year. The tiebreaker goes to this season’s record, and with four results of seventh or eighth in five races on 1.5-mile tracks, he demands close attention in practice and qualification.

Bonus Picks

Pole Winner: Three of the last four Chicagoland races have had qualification canceled because of weather, which doesn’t give players much data to consider. Kyle Busch won last year’s pole, however, and took the top spot at Charlotte and Atlanta earlier this season, so he is the driver mostly like to be fastest in time trials this week.

Segment Winners: Does one really have to ask who the most likely segment winners will be? Flip a coin between Harvick and Busch and hope that Fate is smiling.

For more Fantasy NASCAR coverage, check out and follow Dan Beaver (@FantasyRace) on Twitter.

Charlotte Cup race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — All-day rain Sunday forced the postponement of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race to Monday.

The postponement means that Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled to host 900 miles of stock car racing Monday. A 300-mile Xfinity Series race, originally scheduled Saturday and first postponed to noon Monday, has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Monday (FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Cup race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. (Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sunday’s Cup race was scheduled to start at 6:21 p.m. ET, but light rain was still falling at that time in the speedway area near Charlotte. Rain intensified a few minutes later and, despite an evening forecast that showed slight improvement, officials decided at 6:30 p.m. to postpone the race.

Monday’s forecast calls for a 34% chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race and a 30% chance at the start of the Cup race.

William Byron will start the race from the pole after qualifying was washed out Saturday night.

RFK Racing gains sponsorship from submarine recruiting group


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR racing and submarines? Yes.

RFK Racing announced Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that it has entered a partnership with BlueForge Alliance, which is involved in securing workers for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) program. will be a primary sponsor for RFK drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher in 10 Cup Series races this year and in 18 races per season beginning in 2024.

The sponsorship will showcase the careers related to the submarine-building program across the nation.

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“I’m proud to support a cause of such vital significance to our country with this new partnership,” Keselowski said. “The synergies between a NASCAR team and our military’s needs to stay on track fast are countless. We hope to inspire the workforce of the next generation across the country when they see RFK race and hear our message.”

The sponsorship will support the mission to recruit, hire, train, develop and retain the SIB workforce that will build the Navy’s next generation of submarines, the team said.

“We are excited and grateful to be teaming with RFK Racing to drive awareness of the thousands of steady, well-paying manufacturing jobs available across the nation. Innovation, working with purpose and service to others are hallmarks of both of our organizations,” said Kiley Wren, BlueForge chief executive. “Together, we aim to inspire NASCAR fans and all Americans to pursue career opportunities that will support our national defense.”

Kyle Larson visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway to survey the scene


Former NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, who is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500 in 2024 as part of an Indy-Charlotte “double,” visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area Sunday on Indianapolis 500 race day.

Larson said he wanted to familiarize himself with the Indy race-day landscape before he becomes immersed in the process next year.

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Larson later returned to Charlotte, where was scheduled to drive in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night. Next year, he’s scheduled to run both races.

“I love racing,” Larson told NBC Sports. “I love competing in the biggest races. In my opinion, this is the biggest race in the world. I wanted to be a part of it for a long time, and I finally feel like the timing is right. It’s pretty cool to have a dream come true.

“I wanted to come here and kind of experience it again and get to experience how crazy it is again before I’m in the middle of it next year. I kind of want as little surprise as possible next year.”

In the 2024 500, Larson will be one of four drivers with the Arrow McLaren team.

Earlier this month, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon attended an Indy 500 practice day.

Larson said Sunday he hasn’t tested an Indy car.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll get in the car,” he said. “I’ve had no sim (simulator) time yet. I’ve kind of stayed back. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and take any focus on what they have going on for these couple of weeks. I’m sure that will pick up after today.

“I look forward to the challenge. No matter how this experience goes, I’m going to come out of it a better race car driver.”




Jimmie Johnson: Building a team and pointing toward Le Mans


CONCORD, N.C. — These are busy days in the life of former NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson is a co-owner of Legacy Motor Club, the Cup Series team that has struggled through a difficult first half of the season while it also is preparing for a switch from Chevrolet to Toyota next year.

Johnson is driving a very limited schedule for Legacy as he seeks to not only satisfy his passion for racing but also to gain knowledge as he tries to lift Legacy to another level. As part of that endeavor, he’ll race in the Coca-Cola 600 in Legacy’s No. 84 car, making his third appearance of the season.

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And, perhaps the biggest immediate to-do item on Johnson’s list: He’ll race June 10-11 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s biggest endurance race and another of the bucket list races the 47-year-old Johnson will check off his list.

“I’m excited, invigorated, exhausted — all of it,” Johnson said. “It has been a really exciting adventure that I’ve embarked on here — to learn from (Legacy co-owner) Maury Gallagher, to be a part of this great team and learn from everyone that I’m surrounded by. I’m in a whole new element here and it’s very exciting to be in a new element.

“At the same time, there are some foundational pieces coming together, decisions that we’re making, that will really help the team grow in the future. And then we have our job at hand – the situation and environment that we have at hand to deal with in the 2023 season. Depends on the hat that I’m wearing, in some respects. There’s been a lot of work, but a lot of excitement and a lot of fun. I truly feel like I’m a part of something that’s really going to be a force in the future of NASCAR.”

Johnson is scheduled to fly to Paris Monday or Tuesday to continue preparations for the Le Mans race. He, Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller will be driving a Hendrick Motorsports-prepared Chevrolet as part of Le Mans’ Garage 56 program, which is designed to offer a Le Mans starting spot for a team testing new technologies.

“For me, it’s really been about identifying marquee races around the world and trying to figure out how to run in them,” Johnson said. “Le Mans is a great example of that. Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 — these are the marquee events.”

He said his biggest concerns approaching the 24-hour race are being overtaken by faster prototypes in corners and racing at night  while dealing with the very bright lights of cars approaching in his rear view mirrors.

At Legacy, Johnson has work to do. Erik Jones has a top finish of sixth (and one other top 10) this season, and Noah Gragson is still looking for his first top-10 run. He has a best finish of 12th – at Atlanta.

“I think Erik (Jones) continues to show me just how good he is,” Johnson said. “He’s been in some challenging circumstances this year and keeps his head on — focuses, executes and gets the job done. I’ve really been impressed with his ability to stay calm and execute and just how good he is.

“With Noah, from watching him before, I wasn’t sure how serious he took his job in the sport. I knew that he was fast, and I knew that he liked to have fun. I can say in the short time that I’ve really worked with him closely, he still has those two elements, but his desire to be as good as he can in this sport has really impressed me. So I guess ultimately, his commitment to his craft is what’s impressed me the most.”